“New Year’s Eve in Vienna” by Robert Hunter Jones

Robert Hunter Jones


In the waning days of the year, Omicron
entered my son who entered our home
at 5 a.m. with his slightly bent key, quietly
taking his tiny guest to bed with him, sleeping
soundly until 2 p.m. I don’t think it’s love—
greedy little microbe from a broken home.

You have to feel sorry, almost. You have to
question the nature of friendship, the value
of social niceties—little bridges of desire
riding the common exchanges of breath
between words. Laughter in the small hours
before dawn, a little forced, a little too loud.

Now we wait. Who falls, who coughs up
all the names of casual contacts—little parlor
game of memory? In the meantime, strangers
trundle by beyond the windows, their own
little burdens in tow, dirty snow
crowning the curbstones.

from Poets Respond
January 4, 2022


Robert Hunter Jones: “A couple of weeks ago, our son, Branson, returned to Vienna from his first semester at University of Puget Sound. The day after Christmas, he went out for one evening with some of his old pals from his graduating class here in Vienna. All were fully vaccinated and boosted. A day later one of the boys had a runny nose, tested, and came back positive. In the days ahead the entire group, one by one, came down with the virus. It is New Year’s Eve, 9:21 p.m. as I write this. We are in quarantine, waiting for the other shoe to drop. My daughter turns 18 on the 2nd. For now we are all locked down.” (web)

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